Kotoutuminen* #6: The white Finnish teacher and the migrant adult child. Stop infantilizing!

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Red lights should start flashing whenever a person teaching integration 101 to newly arrived migrants states: “These students are my children.”

It is important to note, however, that there are many good and inspiring teachers who do wonders for their students and make them feel welcome.

Schools can be violent places for non-white people as this poster alleges. A THL study showed that first-generation migrants face at school bullying, physical and sexual harassment. Shouldn’t integration courses should also teach newcomers how to challenge such violence, prejudices, and discrimination that are too commonplace?

But for those who see their students as “children,” even if their students are grown-up adults, exposes their cultural arrogance, and racism.

If it were up to these types of teachers to “integrate” and turn these migrants into active members of society, the result is preparing them to become second- and third-class members of society.

Another serious problem is that there are few if any bodies that directly actively evaluate the teacher and his or her prejudices. Usually, white people are doing this type of evaluation if any.

I believe that a teacher aims to offer the best education possible to the students. If I were giving a talk to such teachers, the first thing I’d tell them is to stop underestimating and treating them like children.

I would turn to bodies like the European Network Against Racism to offer anti-racism and cultural diversity courses.

In the meantime, let’s stop infantilizing migrants!

See also:

*Kotoutiminen is the Finnish term for integration.